The Oklahoma City Thunder went 1-2 last week, wrapping up the stretch with a 114-112 win over the Houston Rockets on Sunday.
The Thunder (18-24) entered the game on a two-game losing streak, including losses to the Chicago Bulls and Atlanta Hawks, following a win over the Memphis Grizzlies on March 14. The win marked the 18th of the season for OKC, a team that finds itself now just 2.5 games out of the Play-In Tournament.
Oklahoma City takes on the Minnesota Timberwolves tonight before a pair of home games later this week against the Grizzlies (Wednesday) and the Boston Celtics (Saturday). Before the team's tip-off, let’s look back at the previous three matchups and some key takeaways.
BULLS 123, THUNDER 102
The Thunder couldn’t overcome a slow start, allowing 42 points in the first quarter of the team’s first loss of the week.
- Moses Brown showed off his potential, scoring 20 points while grabbing 16 rebounds in the loss. The team is excited about Brown’s upside, especially his motor, as head coach Mark Daigneault pointed out postgame. Eight of Brown’s rebounds came on the offensive end, and he also blocked five shots.
- Luguentz Dort sat his second straight game with a toe injury, and Bulls guard Zach LaVine took advantage. LaVine scored 40 points, including 20 in the third quarter. It goes to show how important Dort’s effort and energy are to OKC’s success. Daigneault said after the game, it takes five guys to stop someone like LaVine. It would have helped to at least have the team’s best defender.
- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had an off night, scoring 21 points and turning the ball over eight times with just one assist. SGA went 0-for-1 from three-point range and attempted just one free throw.
HAWKS 116, THUNDER 93
The Thunder struggled from start to finish in a 116-93 loss to Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday.
- OKC struggled early for the second straight game. The team found itself down 25-8 with four minutes remaining in the first quarter. The Thunder went 6-for-21 in the period, leading to a 37% mark for the game.
- Daigneault went with a slightly bigger starting lineup, including Gilgeous-Alexander, Dort, Aleksej Pokusevski, Isaiah Roby, and Al Horford. Theo Maledon came off the bench for the first time since Jan. 24 against the Clippers.
- Atlanta dominated down low, scoring 54 points in the paint while out-rebounding OKC 50-38. The Thunder scored 40 points in the paint and came away with 11 offensive rebounds.
THUNDER 114, ROCKETS 112
The Thunder held off the Rockets for the team’s only win of the week and first in three games.
- Dort was very aggressive in looking for his shot, shooting the ball 22 times. With four starters out, he had a brighter green light than usual and took full advantage. It was very encouraging to see him shoot the ball as much and not be afraid to carry the load.
- It was another game with evenly distributed scoring. Six players scored 10+ points. Daigneault has done a great job creating a system and culture that brings the best out of players, and that showed. The Thunder has very nice depth despite the roster not really standing out on paper. It’s just a group of guys who play the right way and play for each other that gives great effort.
- The Rockets should not be this bad. On paper, they have a pretty decent roster with a respectful trio of John Wall, Christian Wood, and Victor Oladipo. If Daigneault were Houston’s head coach, they would definitely be playing for the 10th seed. Instead, they have lost 20 in a row and look discombobulated. The last play of the game really shows that too. Wall took an ill-advised deep three-pointer despite Silas AOT play being a P&R.
A LOOK AHEAD
MON at Minnesota (10-32) Last Meeting: W 120-118 (Feb. 6)
- The Thunder and Timberwolves meet for the rubber match tonight as the two teams have split the previous two meetings. Minnesota has the worst record in the NBA.
WED v. Memphis (19-20) Last Meeting: W 128-122 (March 14)
- It’s another rubber match as the Grizzlies and Thunder have split the first two meetings. Memphis enters the week, having won two of its last three games and squares off with Boston tonight at home.
SAT v. Boston (21-21) Last Meeting: W 105-104 (March 8, 2020)
- OKC and the Celtics match up for the first of two meetings this season. Boston enters the week as the 6-seed in the Eastern Conference but has lost four of its last six games. The Celtics take on Memphis tonight on the road.